The dangers posed by climate change have been officially acknowledge by Aylsham Town Council, which has now declared a climate emergency.

But the decision on whether or not to take the step was a close one, with the council voting six-to-five in favour at its August meeting.

Trevor Bennett, town council chairman, used his casting vote to decide the issue. He said this was justified because, while the whole council seemed to be in favour of protecting the environment, it was split over the use of the word 'emergency'.

Mr Bennett said: "I felt it was important enough to use the casting vote, because it was a matter of semantics of the use of one word - emergency.

"Then I put forward a motion on whether the council supports taking action climate issues, and that passed unanimously with 10 votes for."

Mr Bennett said the declaration would inform future council decisions - for example, it would consider buying an electrically powered van when its current van needs replacing.

Hal Turkmen, Aylsham resident, spoke at the meeting against the move, calling it "utter hypocrisy".

North Norfolk News: Hal Turkmen.Hal Turkmen. (Image: Norfolk Conservatives)

He said: "The councillors continue to drive their petrol or diesel cars while voting to declare a climate emergency.

"The town council may be replacing the current gas boiler with another gas boiler we were told, but we also have been told this should not preclude them from declaring a climate emergency.

"I am opposed to this utter hypocrisy."

Hundreds of councils across the UK have so far declared a climate emergency, taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and tackle the impact of climate change in their local areas.

Mr Bennett said the move was discussed at a town council meeting earlier in the year, raised by the Aylsham Cittaslow group.

A vote at that meeting about declaring a climate emergency was defeated.

Mr Bennett said the council then sought views of residents about whether or not they should make the declaration.

He said: "The vast majority of the responses - over 30 - were very much in support of declaring a climate emergency."